UN troops fire on Ivorian civilians - Gbagbo
Incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo has accused UN peacekeeping forces in his country of targeting civilians, calling on them to leave the West African country, Press TV reported.
"It is not the role of UN forces to shoot people, nor is it their role to fight a war," Gbagbo said on state-run RTI television on Saturday.
"It is not normal that UN forces would open fire on civilians. This is why I ask them to leave," he added.
The embattled self-declared Ivorian president also called for 900 French troops, who back up the 9,000 UN forces, to leave the country.
Gbagbo was making reference to an incident on Wednesday when a hostile crowd fired shots at a UN convoy in the Abobo district of Abidjan.
Spokesman for the UN peacekeeping forces in Ivory Coast Hamadoun Toure rejected the shooting on Thursday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that the former French colony is on the brink of civil war following the disputed November 28 run-off presidential election.
Opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara has taken refuge in Abidjan's Golf Hotel since the vote. The hotel is currently protected by an 800-strong force of UN peacekeepers.
More than 16,000 Ivorians have fled to neighboring Liberia following the post-electoral instability. The United Nations expects the number to hit 30,000.
Gbagbo has ignored calls from the international community to concede defeat to Ouattara.
On December 13, the European Union slapped a round of sanctions against Gbagbo and his political aides to intensify his diplomatic isolation.
Sanctions including visa bans and asset freezes "will particularly target those leading figures, who have refused to place themselves under the authority of the democratically elected president," EU ministers said in a statement.
On December 2, Ivory Coast's electoral commission announced that Ouattara had won the nation's long-awaited presidential election with 54 percent of the vote.
However, the Constitutional Council immediately contested the result, citing the electoral commission's failure to declare the vote result by Wednesday's deadline.
The council overruled earlier provisional poll results a day later and declared Gbagbo as the winner of the country's presidential run-off election.
The disputed election has raised the risk of a long power struggle in the country. The world's top cocoa-producing nation is still reeling from the 2002-2003 civil war, which split the West African country in two.